Sous Chef Sunday: Big Mac Pizza

Wanna add some ‘wow’ into your family’s next pizza night? Our Big Mac Pizza is sure to do the trick. The sons could not gt over the fact that it tasted just. like. the sandwich. It’s pretty epic. The whole concept combines two of their most favorite things: fast food & pizza. And Mom’s actually letting them have both? IN THE SAME NIGHT?? They were on cloud 9, and I’m pretty sure if they’d floated any higher they would’ve floated away.

Big Mac Pizza

You don’t have to go super fancy just to change things up a bit. This pizza is a fun twist, but it’s still family friendly, and easy to assemble. And I’ll let you in on a little secret I discovered during the making of this dish. You wanna get the kids in the kitchen fast? Want them to actually want to help you fix dinner? WITHOUT complaining? Put the words ‘big mac’ in the name of whatever you’re having. Problem solved 🙂

Big Mac Pizza

Big Mac Pizza 2

pizza dough, homemade, store-bought, or pre made will all work
Olive oil (if you’re using fresh dough)
Thousand Island salad dressing
6-8 slices of yellow American cheese
1/2 – 3/4 lb. ground beef
Salt and pepper, to taste
1-2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce
grape tomatoes, thinly sliced (optional)

Directions

1. In a medium sized skillet, brown the ground beef. Season the meat with salt and pepper, to taste. Drain the cooked beef and set aside.

2.For pizza dough, lightly grease a pizza pan or large cookie sheet. Pat or roll the dough out into pan and lightly drizzle some olive oil over the top of the crust and then bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven.

3. Top the pizza crust with Thousand Island salad dressing and just like you would with sauce, use a lade or the back of a spoon to evenly spread the dressing out over the crust all the way up to the crusts edges. Top the spread dressing with the American cheese slices, and don’t worry if they don’t completely cover the entire pizza. Top the cheese with the ground beef. Sprinkle the shredded cheddar cheese evenly over top of the beef.

4. Bake the pizza at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

5. Remove from the oven and allow the pizza to cool slightly, about 2-3 minutes, before cutting it into slices.

6. To serve, top the cooled pizza with shredded lettuce, tomato and additional Thousand Island, if desired. Enjoy!

recipe adapted from Love Bakes Good Cakes

Grilled Onion Bombs

Virginia weather is weird. Friday it was warm enough for sun-bathing. The next morning? We woke up to freezing rain and whipping wind. It’s nuts. Like welcome to the state where you can get sunburn and frostbite in the same week, nuts. But now that we’re at least ‘officially’ in Spring, the weather should trend on the side of at least moderately higher temps, and around these parts that’s all we need. We’ve got two wardrobes, winter and summer. First warm day? Pull out the tank tops and shorts. But it’s only 67 degrees out you say? That’s ok.

Another thing that makes its debut with the first Spring-like day? Our grill! Not to say we ever actually put it away, but it’s a lot easier grilling out at a cloudy 67 than in sleet or snow.

So, sun’s out … Grills out! And onion bombs are one of our favorites. They couldn’t be any easier to throw together and they taste incredible. These could just as easily be called meatloaf stuffed onions, and they’re easily adapted. I know the warmer weather hasn’t reached everywhere yet, but that’s cool. These can just as easily be baked in the oven, at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes in a covered casserole dish, without any sacrifices in the flavor infusion dept.

Onion Bombs

Do you enjoy camping? We do, and usually we stick to the easy realm of hamburgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and cans of soup. But guess what makes a perfect meal cooked up over a camp fire? Yep, that’s right, onion bombs! Stuff em just the same, wrap em up in tin foil, and cook em over the hot camp fire coals for about 45 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Onion Bombs

Onion Bombs 2

1-1.5 lbs lean ground beef ( or you can do half ground beef and half ground pork )

1 large white onion, peeled

1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 egg
salt and pepper, to taste
3/4 cup of shredded cheese (any kind of cheese you like)
1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of bread crumbs, or pulverized oatmeal, & 1 slice of bread torn into small pieces

Directions

1. Cut, from the top to the bottom right down the middle, a large onion in half. You want to cut from top to bottom, right down the middle, not sideways. Then take each layer from each one and pair them together making sure to match each side with it’s mate. Be careful when pulling the layers apart because they can tear easily.

2. Add all of the other ingredients to a large bowl. Mix all of this up with your hands, squishing and kneading everything together, as you would with meatloaf until all the ingredients are . You want almost the same texture like meatloaf too. If it seems too dry, just add a bit more ketchup or a tad more mustard. If it feels too wet, add a few more bread crumbs.
3. To assemble the onion bombs, start with the largest pair of onion halves. Make a large meatball and place it in one side of the onion half and place the other onion half over the top, filling up the onion cavity and squishing the meatball in between both halves. Continue to fill the rest of the onion halves up with the meat mixture.
4. Here, were grilling them, so wrap each onion bomb in aluminum foil. You want to have enough room so that you can leave a little twist at the top so you can easily pick them up off the grill because they’re these things get hot! Now it’s time to grill them. Put them on the grill and cook for about 8-10 minutes. Flip them over on their opposite side and cook an additional 8-10 minutes.

NOTE: Grilling times will vary based on how high you have your grill set.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

In our home, meatloaf is and has always been a stand-out family fav. Usually, I just make my Grandma’s meatloaf. It’s simple, no-fuss, no-frills, but it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. It’s a relatively short list of ingredients, and it’s fairly simple to throw together, but whenever I’m asked for the recipe I have to explain that there actually isn’t one.

Do you have any idea how long it took for me to learn how to make my Grandma’s meatloaf?! There was no. recipe. This meant that any time I wanted to make meatloaf, or she was making up a batch for the freezer, I would pack up my Costco-sized packages of ground beef, and the other ingredients I needed, and go over to her house and stand in the kitchen for hours watching her ‘eyeball’ ingredients as she casually threw everything together into a giant bowl. The only part I was allowed to partici[pate in was getting my hands dirty and smooshing ans squishing everything together. I was an excellent meatloaf masher 😉

After several months of ‘eyeballing’ she must have seen something that told her I was ready for the next step. The next meatloaf day I showed up energized, packing my lean ground beef, and ready to finally give it a go. This lasted through like two ingredients before she ended up taking over and just doing it herself. She said it was easier. This happened every time. Every. time. Do you have any idea how frustrating this was? Yes, I’d end up taking home several great meatloafs, but I couldn’t make them at my own house or by myself. It was beyond me (and totally out of my comfort zone at the time) to experiment by throwing various amounts of food stuffs into a bowl full of hamburger meat and hoping for the best, or knowing when to add more liquidy stuffs and when you needed more dry crap. I thought it was hopeless, and resigned myself to my Grandma making, or taking over making, my meatloaves for the rest of my life. But, Grandma’s been gone for almost 6 years now and it turns out, that unbeknownst to me, she knew what she was doing. Even without a recipe, I can whip up a kick ass meatloaf, and I cherish all those memories of us in her kitchen that I might not have had as an adult without all our meatloaf days. Somewhere along the way, I observed enough to interpret and absorb her secret meatloaf makin’ ways 🙂

While Grandma’s meatloaf will always be our  ‘put-up-on-a-pedestal’ favorite, we do enjoy trying other versions, especially ones that incorporate some of our favorite flavor combos. I like to think Grandma would be proud of our ingenuity and of pushing the recipe boundaries– something that would have been way out of her much more traditional kitchen comfort zone 😉 We’ve enjoyed bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, Mexican meatloaf, and even several Chicken versions. This recipe here though, is one of our most often enjoyed variations.

 French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

Think of your favorite meatloaf, then imagine that stuffed with your favorite french onion soup. And cheese. CHEESE! In our defense we usually stuff ours with mozzarella, but here Swiss is the perfect companion to the tender caramelized onions tucked up in our savory, prepared ground beef. This gourmet version is sure to wow the socks off of the family, and is a perfect option for those night’s when company’s coming.

French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf

French Onion Soup Au Gratin Stuffed Meatloaf

recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kalechips

For the onions:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-large onions, halved & thinly sliced
½ tbsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup beef broth
¼ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
For the meatloaf:
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs or quick cooking, ground oats
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups mozzarella, or Swiss, cheese, shredded, divided
For the sauce:
2½ cups beef broth
½ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
3 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

For the onions:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. When the oil’s hot add in the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until they’ve caramelized.
2. Next, add the thyme and sauté for a minute or two, then add in the wine and beef broth.
3. Give everything a stir, and allow to continue cooking while the liquid reduces, until very little liquid remains in the skillet. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the meatloaf:
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs or oats, parsley, pepper, salt, and eggs. Using your hands (you can wear latex gloves if you’re squeamish) squish everything together until evenly incorporated.
2. Lay the meat mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and press it out into a roughly 10×12-inch rectangle.
3. Set aside ½ cup of the cheese and ½ cup of the onions. Sprinkle the remaining 1½ cups cheese and onions evenly over the ground beef. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from the short end, lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap as you roll. Seal the end completely, and place the loaf seam-side down into a 9×13-inch baking pan.
4. Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While the meatloaf is baking, prepare the sauce. For the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside
5. Remove the pan from the oven, pour the prepared sauce over the meatloaf, and sprinkle the top with the reserved onions and cheese.
7. Return the meatloaf to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
8. Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

Once upon a time I thought beef wellington was just for rich people (and snobs). Those pricey cuts of beef were certainly out of my budget, even if puff pastry was not. I mean, I’ve got four kids and one income. Fancy cuts of beef are reserved for special occasions. Heck, who am I kidding? Even our anniversaries are more economical than that. But, over the years and with lots of trial and error, I’ve learned that cooking in a frugal kitchen and staying within your budget doesn’t mean we have to give up fancy meals. Sometimes, a little creativity is all you need to turn a gourmet favorite in a budget-friendly dish.

 Poor Man's Beef Wellington

Then I stumbled across this wonderful recipe. This revolutionary idea for Poor Man’s Beef wellington. Subbing ground beef for expensive cuts and adding in a healthy helping of veggies, it makes it doable, and delicious, for all of us. It’s like this fantastic hybrid that crosses the classic flavors of Shepherd’s Pie with all the delectable texture of a traditional Beef Wellington.

Hooray! Beef Wellington for everyone!!

Poor Man’s Beef Wellington

Poor Man's Beef Wellington 2

recipe adapted from Oh, Sweet Day

1 onion
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 potatoes, diced
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil
4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme
1/2 cup of frozen peas (optional)
1 egg, beaten
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 package of store-bought puff pastry
flour, for dusting and rolling
salt and pepper

Directions

1. In a large skillet, gently saute all the veggies, garlic, and the herbs, stirring occasionally, until your vegetables are tender and the onions are translucent. It will take about 6-8 minutes. Transfer the cooked veggies into a large bowl and allow them to cool completely.
2. Once they’ve cooled, add in the beef and peas. Here is your chance to play with your food! Get into the bowl with your hands, really dig in, and start kneading everything together, including salt and pepper and half of the beaten egg, reserving the other half for the pastry crust. Make sure everything is good and mixed up and evenly incorporated.
3. Dust a clean work surface with a handful of flour and roll out the puff pastry to a 1/4 inch thickness.
4. Shape your beef mixture into a log (as close as you can get) and place it in the center of the rolled out pastry sheet, finish shaping into a log if necessary, and brush the edges with the reserved egg. Roll it up, tucking the ends inside like a giant burrito, brush the sealed pastry log with beaten egg everywhere you can see, place it on a baking sheet seam down, and lightly brush the top with the remainder of the beaten egg.
5. Bake the Beef Wellington at 350 degrees for 45 min to an hour, depending on your oven, until golden and crispy on the outside.
6. Allow the Beef Wellington to cool for about 5 minutes. Use a serrated bread knife to gently slice the wellington into the desired portions. Serve and enjoy!

To round out the meal, you can serve your Wellington with a simple green salad or, if you’re looking for a heftier meat and potatoes kind of meal, even roasted potatoes.

Crockpot Lasagna

I love a good classic.

A classic novel. {i.e. Pride & Prejudice}

A classic movie. {i.e. Roman Holiday }

And I most definitely love a classic lasagna recipe. {i.e. this one!}

Let’s keep it real though. On top of it being an all-out yummy classic comfort food, lasagna is a busy mom’s secret dinner weapon. It’s such a great option, especially when we’re talking about a crockpot, not oven, version because it’s so easy to throw together and it’s really filling, so a little goes a long way.

Crockpot Lasagna 5

Plus, this recipe usually makes enough for leftovers, which is a bonus because lasagna is one of those foods that almost always tastes even better the next day. Lasagna also keeps well in the freezer, so if you have the carb-resisting strength, you can freeze the extra for another meal. Maybe a lunch or light dinner? It’s safe to say that given the sheer number of lasagna recipes out there, the secret to making great lasagna is finding a recipe with ingredients that you love. For us, the trick comes down to quality meats (that’s right, meats, plural), quality cheeses (again, plural), and a top notch sauce.

 crockpot lasagna 3

Just look at that? Does it get anymore perfect than this, cooked to bubbling perfection? I was always so tired of getting it wrong when I would bake them in the oven. We love a few crispy edges, but not throughout the whole thing! And, then… voila!

Crockpot Lasagna 4

 This is a no-fail recipe that guarantees you won’t end up with hard, crusty noodles or a totally dry dish. Just layer the ingredients in the crockpot, sit back, and relax!

Crockpot Lasagna 2

Three different cheeses simmer right along with delicious ground meats and perfectly herbed pasta sauce in this easy, no fuss, delicious lasagna.

Dinner is serrrved!

Crockpot Lasagna

crockpot lasagna

recipe adapted from Creating Through Life

1 lb ground beef
1 lb ground Italian sausage
1 small onion, diced
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
29 oz can tomato sauce
8 oz pkg. lasagna noodles, uncooked
4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese + 1/2 cup
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

Directions

1. Brown the ground beef and ground sausage. When they’re about half way done add in the garlic and onions. When the meat is browned drain and return to the pan or skillet.
2. Stir the tomato sauce in with the cooked meat.
3. Spread 1/4 of the meat sauce on the bottom of a prepared (sprayed well with non-stick cooking spray) crock-pot.
4. Arrange 1/3 of the uncooked noodles over the sauce, breaking them up to fit better as you go.
5. Combine the 4 cups of mozzarella, ricotta, and Parmesan cheeses in a bowl. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese mixture over the noodles. Gently spread it out to form a layer that covers the noodles.
6. Repeat these layers twice.
7. Top with the remaining meat sauce.
8. Cover and cook on low for 4 hrs.
9. Let the lasagna stand in the crock-pot with the lid off for at least 10 minutes. 5 minutes before serving sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella over the top.

Do you love these classic Italian flavors? Need some more easy meal inspiration? Check out these other similar recipes.

4 Sons 'R' Us: Italian Drunken Noodle

Italian Drunken Noodle

4 Sons 'R' Us: Baked Gnocchi

Baked Gnocchi with bacon, tomato, and mozzarella

Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup

{One Pot Wonder} Dirty Rice

For years, we bought the box mix and simply added ground beef to it. We were in heaven. It was divine. It tasted great and it was quick. Everything we ever needed or wanted in our dirty rice dinners. Or so I thought. Sometimes I have readers send me links to recipes they think will tickle my fancy or that they want an opinion on before venturing into uncharted territory. THAT’ is how this recipe fell into my lap, err inbox, late last year, and I can’t say thank you enough!

I wanted to share this with you all sooner. I really did. You see, I first made this late last year, and we loved it. But I don’t typically take pictures until the next time I make something. I mean, I’ve gotta make sure it’s son approve and all. So then there was the second time we made this, and all I had was a crappy picture that really didn’t do it justice, and this meal deserved better than that. So I used that as the perfect excuse to make it again. And it seemed that every time I got around to making it again, and again, we were all in so much of a hurry to dig into this dish that the only photo I could get was using the hub’s cell phone! Clearly you can see where our priorities lie. 😉 So this time around, about 9 months later, give or take a month or so, I didn’t tell anyone what was for dinner and wouldn’t let anyone near the kitchen until I’d managed to get at least one decent shot with my camera. Once I snapped it, that was it, the troops were all over it. It was a lot like what I’d imagine feeding a pack of ravenous wolves might be like. [End tangent]

So. Dirty Rice. If you’re from the South, especially the deep south and any ‘bayou’ regions, you’ve probably grown up on the stuff. For those of you not from the deep south, a fun fact about ‘dirty’ rice.  The traditional Cajun dish get it’s name from the white rice it calls for that turns a ‘dirty’ color when cooked with small pieces of chicken livers. Yeah. I didn’t like liver when I was little, and it’s still a no-go now. I know, I know, your palette can change as you age, but I’m not chancing it. No liver for this Mama. I get my rice pleeeenty dirty using good ol’ ground beef. Don’t like beef? Chicken sausage or pork sausage both work great in this meal. If you’ve got one pot, and one 25-minute window of time, you’ve got this amazing dinner that will leave you with only ONE dish to clean. Priceless, right?!

Dirty Rice

Dirty Rice

recipe adapted from Southern Plate

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
4 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, or 2 tbsp dried
1-3 tbsp creole seasoning, depending on how spicy you’d like it
5 cups cooked rice
 
Directions
 
1. In a large skillet, heat up the oil, over medium heat.
2. Add the ground beef, celery, pepper, garlic, and onion and cook, breaking up the beef while stirring, until the ground beef is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
3. Add the parsley and creole seasoning, starting on the low end with 1 tbsp and tasting before leaving it or increasing the amount as desired, stirring to combine.
4. Then stir in the cooked rice, and saute for 5 minutes, or until heated through, over medium heat.
 
 
Like the idea of a one pot meal and a less-mess dinner? Check out these other one pot wonders:
4 Sons 'R' Us: Mexican Chicken & Rice
Mexican Chicken & Rice (Arroz con Pollo)
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Pizza Pasta
Pizza Pasta
4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Chicken Lo Mein
Chicken Lo Mein
 

Sloppy Joe Tacos

Did you ever start to make sloppy joes and halfway through realize you didn’t have hamburger buns on hand? Yep. Totally happened to me you guys. (And, sadly I can’t say this is the first time either. Don’t get the sons started on how many nights we’ve had to have bunless hotdogs and hamburgers.) And so sloppy joe tacos (what??!) it was. I was weary that this would just end up tasting funky, but it didn’t. It is everything you love about a sloppy Joe along with the comfort of taco shells and all the fixins.

Now: calling all napkins!!! Who am I kidding?! Forget the napkins. I just need a hose. Especially with all four sons in the house eating these. For real! Seriously though… they rock. Grab a bib (and a hose) and dig in!

Sloppy Joe Tacos

Sloppy Joe Tacos

1 lb ground beef, or ground turkey
half a medium onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
shredded cheddar cheese
shredded lettuce

Directions

1. Brown and drain ground beef (or turkey). Place cooked meat back into skillet and saute the onions and pepper until onions begin to turn clear. Add in the ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and garlic powder. Cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, to taste, and remove from heat.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
3. Line taco shells in a 9×13 pan and evenly divide the meat mixture in the shells. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, and place it in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until cheese is melted and shells are warm.
Divide lettuce evenly between taco shells.

Stuffed French Bread & Swiss Mushroom Stuffed French Bread

The sons love sub night. We have it at least once a month. They’re always putting their heads together to try and come up with new filling ideas and combos. We love hot or cold subs, but sometimes I just want to have an uber hearty, hot sandwich for my meal. This fit the bill perfectly. Literally, this giant twist on your average sub-sandwich is great. A quick & easy, ready-in-under-30-minutes meal, that’s every inch of sandwich perfection. Crisp on the outside, hearty and tender on the inside. I do love a good crunch to my bread. Both versions taste great, but if you get any ideas feel free to play around with your ingredients. Add in some extra veggies, change up the cheese. Heck, change up the meat. I seriously doubt you can go wrong with stuffed french bread.

Mmm, can’t you just picture it? Smell it?? Go ahead, try it and taste the delicious-ness.

Stuffed French Bread

 4 Sons 'R' Us: Stuffed French Bread

recipe adapted from Life In The Lofthouse

1 loaf french bread
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 Tablespoon chopped parsley (optional)

Directions

1. Slice the french bread in half, lengthwise, so you’re left with two equal pieces. Scoop out the bread in the center of each piece, making two bread ‘boats’. Place the extra bread in a large bowl and tear it into very tiny pieces. Trust me, you want them tiny. Place both halves of  bread onto a large baking sheet and set it aside.
2. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown both the beef and the onion until fully cooked. Strain the grease and return to the skillet. Next, add in the celery and garlic. Cook until the celery is tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the soup, milk and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook another 5 minutes, or until the meat mix is heated through, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the meat to the bread in the bowl, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into the center of one half of the french bread and spread out evenly. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle the meat mixture with the cheddar cheese. Top with the other half of bread to make it a sandwich.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. When done cooking, let your bread sit for 5 minutes so everything ‘sets’, before slicing and serving. Then, eat up!

Swiss Mushroom Stuffed French Bread

1 loaf french bread

1 lb lean ground beef
2 tbsp diced onion
1/4-1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tsp beef bouillon
2 tbsp milk
2 tsp Worcestershire
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups shredded Swiss cheese

Directions

1. Slice the french bread in half, lengthwise, so you’re left with two equal pieces. Scoop out the bread in the center of each piece, making two bread ‘boats’. Place the extra bread in a large bowl and tear it into very tiny pieces. Trust me, you want them tiny. Place both halves of bread onto a large baking sheet and set it aside.
2. In a skillet over medium high heat, brown both the beef and the onion until fully cooked. Strain the grease and return to the skillet. Next, add in the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add in the soup, milk and Worcestershire sauce. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Cook another 5 minutes, or until the meat mix is heated through, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the meat to the bread in the bowl, stirring to combine. Pour mixture into the center of one half of the french bread and spread out evenly. Spread out evenly. Sprinkle the meat mixture with the cheddar cheese. Top with the other half of bread to make it a sandwich.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. When done cooking, let your bread sit for 5 minutes so everything ‘sets’, before slicing and serving. Then, eat up!

The Best Meatballs

Meatball recipes are often challenged by chefs who claim, “Mine are the best!” Even though my meatballs ARE the best ( in my opinion of course), I won’t claim they’re the best in the world.  However, they are the best recipe I’ve ever found and they’re the best for me. Who would have guessed the secret ingredient would be stuffing mix? It gives it all the right flavors and leaves them incredibly moist. Try them for yourself! My Italian father in law makes meatballs, his family recipe, and I’ve watched him since I first got married. They’re good, but there are so many steps and so many ingredients. It’s a lengthy, day long process. Ain’t nobody got time for that, at least not in this house. These are so easy, I can have them mixed, shaped, and baked in well under 30 minutes. Everybody’s got at least 30 minutes at some point in the day, right? After they’re baked throw them in some sauce for delicious spaghetti and meatballs. We love using them to make Crockpot Hawaiian meatballs. They’re totally freezer-friendly, and the sons love taking a few out at lunch time for making meatball subs.

The Best Meatballs

 4 Sons 'R' Us: The Best Meatballs

recipe adapted from Kraft Recipes

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 pkg. (6 oz.) chicken flavored stuffing mix
1 1/4 cups of water
2 eggs

Directions

1. Heat your oven to 400 degrees.
2. Line two baking pans with foil (this makes for no-fuss cleanup later). Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.
3. In a large bowl mix all the ingredients (I find by hand is best) until fully incorporated.
4. Shape the meat mixture into about 32, 1 1/2 inch, balls (about 1/4 cup meat per ball) and placing them in the prepared pans as you go.
5. Bake the meatballs for 16-18 minutes, or until completely cooked. No pink meat for us.
6. Remove from the oven and, if using immediately, add the meatballs into your recipe. Otherwise allow them to cool completely and follow freezing instructions.

To Freeze

Loosely pack meatballs in zip-locking freezer bags. When freezing, make sure to lay the bags flat so the meatballs freeze individually without sticking/clumping together. They can be stored frozen for up to 3 months. To use, allow them to thaw in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight before hand.

Cheesy Ground Beef And Rice Casserole

I really have to give a nod to casseroles. I love them…not just because they’re easy, but because they were some of the first things I ever started cooking. Casseroles are wonderful if you’re on a budget. I also love them because they’re so easy to make “my own”, and typically I’ve always got to put my own spin on things. I’m a tweaker, and I can’t not tweak a new recipe. Casseroles are also a life-saver on busy weeknights. I’m trying to get everybody where they need to go, homework done, some gym time in, AND I’ve still got to get a hot, hearty meal on the table before bed time? <Enter, you guessed it, a casserole> Hello, friend.

If you have a pound of ground beef, you’ve got dinner. This dish is a perfect one stop shop for a weeknight meal. Shoot, it will still be good on a Saturday or Sunday. Dinner shouldn’t be stressful on the weekends either 🙂

Enjoy every last bite of this.

Cheesy Ground Beef And Rice Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: Cheesy Ground Beef & Rice Casserole

recipe adapted from Hungry Little Girl

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
2 tsp minced garlic
1 14 oz can of tomato sauce
1 cup of rice, cooked
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup sour cream, or Greek yogurt
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
salt, pepper, oregano, to taste
1 cup frozen peas

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and turn on the heat to high.
3. Saute the onions for a few minutes.
4. Add the ground beef and garlic. Brown the ground beef completely and drain.
5. Turn the heat down to medium and spice the beef with salt, pepper, and oregano to taste.
6. Add the rice, peas, tomato sauce, broth, and 1 cup of cheese. Let simmer for 3 minutes.
7. Transfer everything to a 9×13 baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream, or yogurt, with the remaining cup of cheese.
9. After 15 minutes, remove the casserole from the oven and spread the cream/cheese mixture evenly over top.
10. Return to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes.